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The First Step


Do you want to know what a definition of insanity is? There are many such definitions – believing that homeopathic remedies have any tangible effect beyond placebo  would be one. Following a very restricted calorie diet and expecting to keep the weight off once you start eating normally would be another. But the definition of insanity I want to use is this: “Doing the same thing and expecting different results.”


It’s utterly bonkers to think that you can keep flogging that dead horse and yet, somehow, get a new and desirable outcome. At best doing the same old thing will give you precisely the same results as last time, probably, not even that. Exercise and diet, you see, work according to the law of diminishing effect. Try something new in the gym or in your diet and you will notice a profound effect. Muscles will hurt in new and interesting ways.  Your weight may go up, or down, depending on what you’re trying to do. However, if you keeping doing what you’re doing then you are doomed to fail – or stay the same. Which is pretty much the same thing as failing.


The problem is that changing everything all the time doesn’t work either. One of my coaching heros is a chap called Dan John and he says “Everything works . . . for 4-6 weeks.”


So that, in a nutshell, is my plan. Every 4-6 weeks I’m going to change what I do and how I go about doing it and I’m going to start with: BODYBUILDING!


Bodybuilding has fallen out of favour amongst the Strength and Conditioning Illuminati as of late, which is a shame, as there is a lot that is good about it. It’s just that in this current climate of Olympic Lifting, Functional Training, Crossfit etc it’s hard to argue the case for split routines, isolation exercises and exercise form that’s about feeling the muscle work and not about either max-weight or max-reps.


There is also a problem with the name “Bodybuilding” as it’s synonymous with the perma-tanned, steroid taking, no leg training, badly attired fuckwits that loiter around the preacher curl bench of every gym. In the 8 years I’ve had Dave’s Gym no woman has ever asked me to write them a Bodybuilding routine. Not once. Never.


Which is also a shame, as what Bodybuilding really is about is changing the way you look. It’s the most self aware and narcissistic sport in the Universe. In competition you are judged on only one criteria – How you look.


So if you want to look good. Have low levels of body fat and, proportionally, high levels of lean muscle that has been trained to develop a balanced and aesthetically pleasing physique then Bodybuilding is your ticket to that beach body you’ve always secretly, or not so secretly, been craving.


Bodybuilding rules.

  1. Volume is king. Keep the reps high (8-20). Keep the sets plentiful (3-5) and keep the amount of exercises for each bodypart generous (2-4)

  2. All this volume will mean a modest weight must be used. Do not go too heavy and sacrifice form. Bodybuilding is all about feeling the muscle work.

  3. Slowing the tempo down and emphasizing the eccentric phase (the lowering part of the exercise) will build more muscle then randomly flailing your limbs around as if you’re being electrocuted.

  4. Use a ratio of about 70% to 30% for compound to isolation exercises. Just because we’re doing Bodybuilding now doesn’t mean that our entire session can be done with the cable machine. The Big Four: Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Press are still the cornerstone of EVERY good workout programe.

  5. Training frequency is important. Each muscle should be trained 2-3 times each week. Once a week is not enough.

  6. You are what you eat. High protein. Moderate carb. Low fat. 6 meals per day. Almost no sugar. Lots of fluids (not beer).


There is a little more to it than that, but it covers the basics for now.


This is what I have done for the past 2 days.


Monday – Chest and Triceps.


Bench press – 6 sets of 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2 reps. Add weight each set. Doing some heavy work has been proven to help your body retain muscle during dieting.


Incline D/B press – 4 sets 10 reps done with agonising slowness.


Dips – 3 sets of 15 reps.


Tricep pushdowns – 4 sets of 15 reps. Squeeze the muscle at the bottom of each rep.


Lying Tricep extensions – 3 sets 15 reps.

Tuesday – Back and Biceps.


Lat Pulldowns – Lots of sets, about 8, getting heavier each time.

Bent over row – 4 sets 10-15 reps

Deadlifts – 5 sets of 5 reps. Not heavy just slow and smooth.

Inverse rows supersetted with bicep curls – 3 sets of 10ish reps each. This was horrible I thought my arms were going to explode.

D/B curl drop set – start with 20kg D/Bs, start curling and move to the next lighter D/B every time you fail.

Thanks for reading,

Dave Carter.


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